Since Monday, February 14, CMD reporters have been on the streets providing live coverage of the historic protests in Madison, Wisconsin and related legal and political battles. We focus on the corporations and spinmeisters pulling the strings. CMD is supported by small contributions from people like you.
According to news reports, the Charles G. Koch Foundation has bought "the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university." Kris Hundley of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the elder Koch brother's foundation "pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting 'political economy and free enterprise.'"
Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare would accelerate a trend started several years ago by corporate CEOs and their political allies to shift ever-increasing amounts of risk from Big Business and the government to workers and retirees.
If enacted, the Ryan plan would represent a windfall of unprecedented proportions for insurance corporations and other businesses.
For millions of average Americans, many of whom already are finding it impossible to save for retirement, it would represent financial calamity. The nation's middle class would pay dearly for Ryan's proposed shredding of the social safety net that Medicare currently provides.
The week of April 10-16 saw the layoff of every public school teacher in Detroit, and the initial fruition of the highly-contested bill that allows emergency financial managers to have unconditional control over a city in a financial emergency. The city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, declared to be in a financial emergency by Governor Rick Snyder, now knows that, according the Snyder, the voter's voice doesn't really matter anymore.
Joseph Harris, the city's new Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), dismantled the entire government, only allowing city boards and commissions to call a meeting to order, approve of meeting minutes and adjourn a meeting.
The law that allows Harris to "exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission, or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed," was passed in March after the urging of Governor Snyder, and despite thousands of protesters who came to the Lansing capitol throughout February and March.
On April 6, 2011, FOX News announced it would help Beck "transition" into other ventures, which include for-air projects and FOX News' websites. What the press release did not mention was the successful campaign against Beck initiated by Color of Change, an organization rooted in equal political access for people of color.
On the show Fox and Friends in 2009, Beck said that President Obama had a "deep seated hatred for white people." Color of Change began a petition appealing to Beck's advertisers to end their support, and within two days, reportedly 100,000 people had signed it. The current number of signatures, according to the group, now stands at 285,000 people. Organizations like Media Matters, MoveOn, CREDO Action and StopBeck joined Color of Change in petitioning Beck's advertisers to stop supporting the show.
On March 23, 2011 a group called Revere America issued a dire-sounding PRNewswire press release titled, "Americans Fear Loss of Freedom on Anniversary of Health Care Reform Law." It warned that "a majority" of Americans view health care reform as "a threat to their freedom" and cited a poll by Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies to prove it. The release came well after Revere America had spent $2.5 million on attack ads in the 2010 mid-term elections to defeat Democratic candidates in two states -- New York and New Hampshire -- who had voted in favor of health care reform. Just prior to the mid-term elections, in the autumn of 2010, Revere America ran a a slew of false and misleading attack ads against the health care reform bill that erroneously called health reform "government-run healthcare" (a Republican and insurance industry buzz-phrase). The ads said that the new law will result in higher costs and longer waits in doctors' offices. In another false claim aimed at inducing fear, the ads told viewers that "your right to keep your own doctor may be taken away."
Democrats who think Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues have foolishly wrapped their arms around the third rail of American politics by proposing to hand the Medicare program to private insurers will themselves look foolish if they take for granted that the public will always be on their side.
Rep. Ryan's budget proposal would radically reshape both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It would turn Medicaid into a block grant, which would give states more discretion over benefits and eligibility. And it would radically redesign Medicare, changing it from what is essentially a government-run, single-payer health plan to one in which people would choose coverage from competing private insurance firms, many of them for-profit.
The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, ordered a commemorative public mural depicting Maine's labor history be removed from the state's Department of Labor, saying he had gotten complaints that the artwork was too pro-labor. The 36-feet long, 8-foot tall work by Judy Taylor of Tremont, Maine depicts workers like Rosie the Riveter, child laborers, shoemakers, textile workers, strikers and the first female American cabinet member, Frances Perkins, who served as U.S. Labor Secretary. The governor had the mural taken down in secrecy, over the weekend, and had it stored in an undisclosed location. The governor also plans to assign new names to the building's conference rooms, which are currently named after prominent labor leaders. In response to the mural's removal, Maine video producer Geoff Leighton proposed balancing out the mural by adding to it images of well-known recent American business moguls, like WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers, who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy, former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, and ponzi-scheme investor Bernie Madoff, "who were significant in bringing wealth to the wealthy, despite onerous government regulations and pesky unions."
Judge MaryAnn Sumi has once again ordered a halt to further implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill, but did not declare whether the Legislative Reference Bureau "publishing" the bill on Friday made it law,* or whether any party is in contempt by arguably violating Sumi's first order. How did we get here, and where are we going?